Knight with Cryptic Smile

Croft Monument, Croft Church, Herefordshire

Lank looks, jowls slack like a dog’s,

Sir Richard Croft made 80 then his heart gave out,

a man who came through wars

so barbarous the ground

was larded like a pork man’s pound

belly parts unpacked,

ears and noses sliced along the bone

to bag for souvenirs.

How can a man

return to sport and cider after times like these,

to managing his land

and wearing out his clothes,

the clash still in his ears of

maces swung like wrecking balls,

skull parts coming loose inside the flesh

and in his nostrils, sweat and smoke

and often times, the breeches-smell

of men who couldn’t hold their fear.

Did the old man tell his wife

the worst of it,

repeat old soldiers’ tales

to boys too young to know?

Or turn away,

suggest a game of bowls,

contrive a certain look

that’s something like a smile.

Colin Sutherill